Army regulation limiting hairstyles belittles select soldiers

In Opinion

hairAmerican soldiers fight for the freedom of their country. Everyday, they put their lives on the line in order to protect U.S. citizens and the country they love.

The last thing they should have to worry about is the style of their hair.

An update to the Army Regulation 670-1 regarding authorized hairstyles has left many African-American servicewomen feeling discriminated against.

The regulation has banned some previously authorized hairstyles that are primarily worn by African-American women.

Some of the hairstyles include braids wider than 1/4” and twists. Both of these styles are very popular among female African-American soldiers.

Upon hearing of these regulations, the women of the Congressional Black Caucus took action and asked that the regulations be overturned.

While they were told the regulation would be reviewed, no actions have actually been taken to change it.

This regulation needs to be reviewed and changed.

It is not uncommon for African-American women to have very curly hair, and with these new regulations their hairstyle options are very limited.

This may seem like a petty concern, but many women may be forced to chemically change the texture of their hair in order to fit the new regulations.

Not only is the process of chemically straightening hair expensive, it is also very difficult to get those chemicals while overseas.

If that is not going to be asked of every soldier, it should not be asked of a specific demographic.

While the need for uniformity is understandable, regulations need to take the diversity of soldiers and people in general into consideration.

Another concern with the updated regulation is the use of the word “unkempt” in the regulation.

There is a clause that says braids that are “unkempt” qualify as dreadlocks, and that dreadlocks are unauthorized.

This statement doesn’t consider that hair comes in varying textures.

Straight, fine-textured hair is very easy to work with, but coarse or curly hair is more difficult.

These regulations leave soldiers with the latter hair type with minimal options.

Soldiers already have much to worry about.

Finding a style that works for their hair type, but will not look “unkempt” to their superior, should not be something added to their list of concerns.

This is not to say that their appearance should be sloppy, but these new changes to Army Regulation 160-1 should include more options for female soldiers with hair of a coarser nature.

This regulation either needs to be changed or be overturned.

It can be said that a soldier should not be so concerned about the style of their hair, but this is not about hairstyle. It is about the difficulty that some female African-American soldiers will have in complying to the new regulations.

America is a country filled with many different cultures, and most citizens take pride in the country’s diversity. Rather than promoting uniformity, this regulation belittles the diversity of American citizens and soldiers.

A regulation that applies to the entire military needs to be far more diverse.

No soldier should feel that Army regulations are discriminatory.

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